Chris Licht stepped down as CEO of CNN effective immediately, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery announced Wednesday.
The announcement came on the tail end of Licht’s first year in the role — a “year of crisis” according to NPR, which ultimately led to him being “ousted” by David Zaslav, chief of Warner Bros Discovery. The “crisis” derived from Licht’s greatest sin: trying to break through the mob mentality the media helped create during the Trump years. (RELATED: Watch The Moment CNN Announces Licht’s Departure Live On Air)
On his first day , Licht sent out a memo describing his mission at the network: to make CNN “a vital, relevant, and respected part of our culture,” while lamenting that “too many people [had] lost trust in the news media.”
Regaining trust required “fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.”
In short, Licht pledged to make CNN a news outlet again. Now that is one thing the rabid, conservative-hating employees could not abide.
CNN is dominated by white liberals who tell you white conservatives are the racist ones—the demons on one side and the angels on the other. And so, after Chris Licht requested a town hall with @realDonaldTrump, the liberals expected him to be destroyed. The town hall was not… pic.twitter.com/01Zjpi8Ps6
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) June 7, 2023
Reports surfaced frequently during Licht’s tenure bemoaning CNN’s alleged capitulation to the right and the low morale among staffers. Axed hosts like Brian Stelter and John Harwood complained openly about Licht’s “strategy shift,” while prominent anchor Christiane Amanpour lampooned his “both sides-ism” as obscuring “the truth.”
More recently, CNN’s town hall with Donald Trump drew fierce criticism internally, with staffers telling Politico that “It was a complete disaster” and “made it seem like CNN was endorsing that behavior.”
His disgruntled, “traumatized” employees finally found their opportunity to oust him amid the fallout of a profile article in The Atlantic titled, “Inside the Meltdown at CNN” — a dauntingly long treatise of corporate intrigue based on interviews with Licht over the past year. It documented Licht’s attempt to “reset” the network and gave a behind-the-scenes look into the Trump town hall, as well as other leadership decisions. (RELATED: ‘What The F*ck Is He Wearing?’: Chris Licht Openly Trashed Don Lemon In Front Of Production Staffers)
Employees at all levels of CNN are startled, angry, sad, despondent. The Atlantic story was an unforced error by Chris Licht; an exposé of what some staffers already knew; a wake-up call to others. “How can he lead us now?”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 5, 2023
The piece creates an interesting juxtaposition between how leftists and Licht viewed the purpose of journalism and reality itself.
Licht criticized CNN’s coverage during the Trump administration, arguing that journalists “putting on jerseys” for the Democrats was inappropriate and resulted in “outrage porn” that left viewers “numb.”
“Everything can’t be an 11 because it happens to come from someone you have a visceral hatred for,” he said.
Licht’s inclination to give Republicans even a semblance of a fair shake amounted to an “apology tour” for the evils of Trumpsim.
Licht countered, “The fact that I want to give space to the [argument] that this thing everyone agrees with might be not right doesn’t make me a fascist right-winger who’s trying to steal Fox viewers.”
The back and forth suggests that the rank-and-file have become so enthralled to the narratives they were instructed to propagate that they now get out ahead of the curve. Take a look at the The Atlantic author’s alternative worldview: “Trump had forced us [to take sides], by trying to annihilate the country’s institutions of self-government, to play a more active role than many journalists were comfortable with. This wasn’t a matter of advocating for capital-D Democratic policies; it was a matter of advocating for small-d democratic principles.”
Thus, the “visceral hatred” determines leftist reality. It cannot be questioned. To do so amounts to “fascism.”
For high level executives and in-the-know hosts, there is a concerted effort to construct narratives favoring a left-wing agenda. Everyone else — the mid-level staffers and journalists writing daily headlines — has truly lost their sense of reality. Now firmly committed to the self-aggrandizing mentality that they are saviors of the republic, they carry out their professional duties with the missionary zeal that charge demands.
The disaffected CNN staffers who now have had their gripes vindicated with Licht’s removal will realize that their behavior will get them their way while sending a message to those who do not tow the party line. The interim CNN leadership would be wise to tread carefully or risk provoking another mutiny. (RELATED: CNN Execs Depart Network Just Hours After CEO Chris Licht Is Fired)
Licht’s ouster shows that the corporate media is once again closing ranks heading into the election season. Think the Hunter Biden laptop black-out was bad? The same thing is likely to happen on a mass scale this time around.
Yet suppression of information will no longer need to come as top-down edict. The rank-and-file journos will move organically to squash anything that conflicts with how they perceive the world around them, just as they did Licht. Anything that even remotely questions their grasp of reality will be immediately shut down.
Ultimately, the media only wants to report for the outrage mob because it is now fully a part of it.